By the President of the United States of America
On August 26, 1920, fifty-nine years ago, the 19th Amendment became a part of the United States Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote.
As we celebrate the anniversary of that victory for all Americans, we applaud the courage of the women and men who struggled for generations to achieve it. But the 19th Amendment was only one step on the long journey toward full equality for women.
Through persistent and dedicated effort, women have made great strides toward achieving that equality in recent years. But the need for the Equal Rights Amendment is still compelling. Today, I reiterate my continued commitment to make the ERA a part of our Constitution.
The ERA does not legislate that men and women are the same. It simply says that the law cannot penalize women because they are female. Nor does the ERA impose new, unwanted roles on women. Rather, it safeguards their opportunity to develop their full potential in the directions they choose. As women are freed from arbitrary barriers and stereotypes, men are liberated as well.
When passed, the ERA will provide a single, clear, comprehensive standard against which discrimination can be measured. Legal equality for women must be made a part of the Constitution.
The ERA is not a recent idea. It was first introduced in Congress in 1923. After lengthy and careful debate, Congress submitted it to the States for ratification on March 22, 1972. Now all but three of the necessary thirty-eight states have ratified it. The deadline is .June 30, 1982.
The ratification of the ERA may be the single most important step in assuring American women their full equality. Gaining ratification in the remaining states will not be easy-but it will mean our country can tap the full resources and abilities of all its citizens.
Now, THEREFORE, I, JIMMY CARTER, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim August 26, 1979, as Women's Equality Day and do hereby urge all Americans to work to guarantee full equality for women before the 1982 deadline.
I hope that, as a part of future celebrations for Women's Equality Day, we can celebrate the passage of the 19th Amendment and the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of August, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fourth.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 4:45 p.m., August 20, 1979]